If you’re looking for exceedingly delicious edibles made from responsibly sourced and organic ingredients, you can find it all at Culinary Table near Lanseria Airport. Extraordinarily good food is the ultimate goal – and it’s a bonus that you can shop for high-end equipment in the business alongside, Culinary Equipment Company, a warehouse of tools that is any cook’s dream.
Chef Daniela Gutstadt, only 26, was cooking at her parents’ Guest House during holidays in Hermanus from a young age and then completed a Grande Diplome in Classic Culinary Arts at the International Culinary Centre, New York. The fact that the remarkably fine food can only be eaten at breakfasts and lunches seems a pity, but private evening functions are often hosted here, featuring Michelin-starred guest chefs from around the world and some of SA’s big names, too.
Daniela has her own butchery on the property (so she knows the pedigree of everything that enters it) and her own bakery, too, from which naturally fermented goodies and pastries emerge every day. At the time of writing, renowned Parisian master pastry chef Romain Lassiaille is in residence, updating the pastry team and producing his specialities.
A large and organic fresh produce plantation is a scissor snip’s distance from the kitchen, and the chef designs her menu around what is fruiting or producing. Everything is reused and recycled where possible, using nose-to-tail and leaf-tip-to-root philosophies. What doesn’t go into the dishes of the day is cured, fermented, pickled or otherwise preserved for an impressively stocked deli, or used to make organic fertiliser.
Businessmen flying into the nearby airport look forward to the breakfasts. Daniela’s tasty confit of tomatoes often features in dishes of eggs with crispy pork belly, homemade sausage and fresh toast. A lighter delight is French toast made from homemade pain de mie, with fresh berry compote, cream and honey.
Despite excelling at flashier dishes like scallops with miso and shiitake dust, Daniela’s major innovations are improving the taste of sometimes simple ingredients. What other chefs would name, as the dishes she is most proud of, homely hake and a roast chicken?
Her hake might be your best yet, gloriously finished with crisped skin to contrast with its velvety, creamy interior. The fish hails from a trusty Port Elizabeth supplier, and shares the plate with a dense roasted red-pepper purée, baby greens from the garden and golden potatoes. Daniela may not turn out quail stuffed with foie gras with a seasoned foam, but don’t miss the best roast chicken, which you can watch on the rotisserie from your seat. The skin has been plumped with the bird’s own fats mixed with thyme to produce the ultimate, heavenly, crisp-skinned roast chicken, its own gravy pooling onto a textured mash. Also try the fondue of Bertrand Père & Fils au lait cru camembert with fresh herbs, honey and vermouth, bubbling and begging for a fresh baguette, or her tuna fishcakes with radish salad and freshly whipped mayonnaise and green papaya salsa.
Daniela’s art as a chef is creating everything from scratch and showcasing the ingredients, not detracting from them. Plating is another of her arts and it works exquisitely for the desserts, as shown in her strawberries and cream done as a strawberry granita with mint cream and seeded vanilla ice cream on homemade pâté sablée.
A suggestion during the week is to order the very reasonable two- or three- course prix fixe of the day. It could be a garden salad starter with a homemade vinaigrette and then a tenderly grilled venison loin with just-picked veggies, followed by an outright amazing lavender crème brûlée, with the perfect glass of wine.
Choose your wine from the temperature-controlled glass cabinets or the great wine list handpicked by Daniela’s father, Wehner Gutstadt. He will happily play sommelier, although the waiters are all knowledgeable too. Waterford and Creation labels appear, but the wine, like the food, is quite accessibly priced. If you’re feeling daring at breakfast, ditch the mimosa or bloody Mary and try the delicious homemade pink citrus-aid, spiked with limoncello and fresh mint.
Server Isaac Zulu makes suggestions, remembers your favourites and updates them with daily alternatives. The friendly feeling of the restaurant reflects Daniela’s ethos of the genuine.
The space features crisp cream linen napkins, lovely tableware, fine glassware and bare blonde tables. It’s sunny and airy, with a view of the kitchen garden. With an open-plan kitchen surrounded by the deli and wine, the spacious room makes it easy to focus on enjoying your food or having conversations or meetings.
A fabulous feature of Culinary Table is its visitor-chef dinners. Keep an eye on Facebook or get onto their mailing list.
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